MEMORIAL UMC’s MISSION…
We are CALLED by Christ to GROW in faith, BUILD relationships, and SERVE all people.
SUNDAY NOVEMBER 1
Twenty-Second Sunday after Pentecost
All Saints Sunday
10 R.L. Pope Class by Jim McGhee on Facebookand WGOS AM 1070
11 Live Worship In Person and Online on Facebook and WGOS AM 1070
(Please read below about protocols and how to enter the building.)
3 Youth (In-Person): Kickball **Note new time!**
5 Worship on the Lawn **Note new time!**
MONDAY NOVEMBER 2
10 10@10 Devotion on Facebook
TUESDAY NOVEMBER 3
8 Men’s Prayer Meeting Online via Zoom (New Contact: Tim Lyons)
9-11 Sewing Ministry
10 10@10 Devotion on Facebook
5:30 Yoga (Jarrett Hall)
THURSDAY NOVEMBER 5
10 10@10 Devotion on Facebook
FRIDAY NOVEMBER 6
10 10@10 Devotion on Facebook
SUNDAY NOVEMBER 8
Twenty-Third Sunday after Pentecost
10 R.L. Pope Class Online: Allen Brown
11 Live Worship In-Person & Online
3 Youth (In-Person) **Note new time!**
5 Worship on the Lawn **Note new time!**
November 19 Red Cross Blood Drive @ MUMC
If you or a loved one would like to be added to the prayer list, please contact Lorna McCullough at 336-259-5814. If you put a name on the list, please keep in touch to let us know how that person is doing, as names are removed after three weeks.
During the coming week, please pray for…
The family of Austin L. Clodfelter, Jr.
Nancy Jones and family
Finley Price family
Andrea Cain and family
Peace and justice in our nation, state, and city
Our first responders, medical community, and essential workers
All those affected by COVID-19
Our United Methodist missionaries
All military personnel
The United Methodist Church
MORNING & EVENING WORSHIP FOR SUNDAY 11/1/2020
We realize that some of you are not yet comfortable with gathering indoors, and we honor that choice. We will continue to offer the 11:00 a.m. service on Facebook Live and WGOS. Some may choose to join us for Worship on the Lawn Sunday evening at 5 p.m.
What to Expect at Indoor Worship
- Access to the Sanctuary is through the Randolph Street doors only. The designated entrance for those needing the elevator will be the door under the walkway.
- You’ll be greeted upon entering the church and asked a few questions.
- Face masks will be required for everyone.
- Some pews will be blocked to maintain social distancing; an usher will help direct you.
- Out of respect for others, please refrain from shaking hands or hugging.
- Offering plates will be available at the entrance and exit of the sanctuary.
- When services end, attendees will be dismissed by section to avoid hallway congestion.
- No nursery staff will be present, but the nursery space will be available.
- Sunday school will not be offered at this time.
October 25th was Commitment Sunday for 2021. Pledge cards were mailed out in mid-October. Those who attend worship in person may bring their pledge cards with them. Others may choose to bring their pledge cards to the church office or send them in the mail. Please let us know if you did not receive a pledge card or if you have any questions.
R.L. POPE CLASS ONLINE LESSONS
SUNDAYS AT 10:00 A.M. on FACEBOOK and WGOS
The R. L. Pope Class is excited to offer weekly online lessons. Tune in to Facebook Live or WGOS on your radio or computer.
November 1 Jim McGhee
November 8 Allen Brown
November 15 Elaine Rabon
November 22 Richard Herman
November 29 Stan Styers
FALL PHOTOS IN THE CHURCH YARD
Our fall harvest photo backdrop is all set in the church yard through November 1. Picture yourself here!
STAR OF BETHLEHEM CANCELED FOR 2020
Regretfully, a decision to cancel Star of Bethlehem for 2020 has been made. This was done due to not knowing the status of large gatherings at that time and decisions concerning the animals and other needs that had to be made far in advance. It takes about 250 people each night to put on this production. For their safety, the inability to distance, and the uncertainty of the situation this December, it was determined that Star of Bethlehem should be cancelled. Please share this with family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors and remind them to look for it again in December 2021! (The animals have already been booked, and plans are moving forward for when large gatherings are once again the norm!) Thank you for your understanding and support. Pray that this virus soon is controlled and life returns to normal.
CLERGY AND STAFF ARE AVAILABLE
You may contact members of the staff directly or by calling the church office at 336-472-7718 and following the instructions on the recording. Here is a list of staff phone extensions and email addresses, for reference:
Danny Leonard, Senior Minister – Ext. 16; firstname.lastname@example.org
Rodney Denton, Minister of Youth and Young Adults – Ext. 18; email@example.com
Lynda Hepler, Minister of Children and Families – Ext. 11; firstname.lastname@example.org
Norris Norwood, Director of Music Ministries – Ext. 12; email@example.com
Susan Frye, Secretary – Ext. 14; firstname.lastname@example.org
Peggy May, Financial Secretary/Treasurer – Ext. 13; email@example.com
Jarry Oldaker, Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds – Ext. 17; firstname.lastname@example.org
We close this week’s eNews with a 10@10 devotion shared by Rodney Denton on September 18, 2020.
Absence Makes the Faith Grow Stronger!
As you may know, Memorial UMC has a new outdoor, in-person, socially-distanced, worship experience on Sunday evenings. Our first Worship on the Lawn service on September 13 was great, and everyone I spoke to told me they would definitely return the following week. It was a simple service with familiar elements. But the best part was that we were together! Certainly, there were masks and social distancing, and of course we were outside, but I don’t think I respected just how much I had missed worshipping in person, TOGETHER. Martha Jo, my wife, who grew up attending a Baptist church (but I don’t hold that against her), confided in me after the service that Sunday evening’s service took her right back to that little church in Reidsville where she grew up, because, as some of you may know, Baptists typically get a double dose of church on Sundays—once in the morning, and then they return that evening for another worship service. Not only that, but by singing hymns like “Blessed Assurance” and “Amazing Grace,” the deal was sealed for perfectly channeling that down-home, “camp meeting” type of vibe that proves for me that worship is all about community and sincerity and the heart that we put into it. So, I guess for MJ and Dr. Jim McGhee and all the other closeted Metho-Baptists in our congregation, that Sunday night may have been a little like “coming home.” I have to say that it was definitely a special service for me as well, and I was all ready to sing the “blood hymns” the next Sunday— “Power in the Blood,” “Are You Washed in the Blood,” “Nothing But the Blood,” etc. But, more than that, I realized I was just ready to worship with the community of God in this most earnest, loving, and straightforward way.
I guess that is what I want to talk about this morning. Now, before I get to the main idea of my devotion, I have to confess that I do not spend as much time reading or studying the Old Testament as I should. A LOT of the content in the Old Testament can be really boring, and often the lesson is buried in some sort of story or narrative that does not give a clear answer to some of the questions that we want answered TODAY. But this whole pandemic/lock-down/time away from assembling as the church has sort of gotten me thinking about, and comparing our current situation to, the part of the Old Testament known as the Exile. Now, in order to understand how I feel like the times we are currently living in have a connection with Old Testament times, you are going to need a very brief and mostly accurate Old Testament history lesson. I’m sorry about this; I’m going to try to make this as painless as possible, but the parallels that I’m trying to make and the lessons that I think we can learn simply won’t make sense unless we understand what happened during the Exile. So, here we go.
We are all probably aware of the Exodus when Moses led the nation of Israel out of Egypt and into the Promised Land of Canaan. These people became the nation of Israel; they will later be known as the Jewish people. They conquered Canaan, set up their kingdom, and started following a series of Kings, one of whom was King David (we talked about David defeating Goliath – Yes, that David). Later, his son Solomon became king. Solomon was responsible for building a huge Temple, which became a permanent structure (something the Jewish people had never had before) where God could be worshipped. At this point in Old Testament history, things get a little weird. After Solomon, the Jewish nation is split into a Northern Kingdom called Israel and a Southern Kingdom called Judah. Both the Assyrian (740 BC) and the Babylonian (586 BC) Empires eventually invaded the Northern Kingdom and part of the southern kingdom, including Jerusalem, which is where the Temple had been built. Now, the way the Babylonians dealt with conquered nations was to water down their national ties and culture by destroying landmarks and icons of that nation. For example, they completely destroyed Solomon’s Temple so that the Jewish people would have no permanent place to connect with God. They also sent a large segment of the population away from their homeland in what has become known as the Jewish Diaspora—or Exile (which is a lot easier to pronounce). The Babylonian theory of conquest sort of reminds me of the way we have to get our kids to eat vegetables. We have to mix them up into food like soup or smother them in cheese so that they can’t be recognized or tasted. Unfortunately, this worked really well against the Jewish people as well. The people may not have been very happy, but over time they began to grow accustomed to the new laws and culture of their conquerors. This included paying tribute to their oppressors and worshipping the Babylonian Emperor as God. The Jewish nation slowly began to lose their identity as The People of God and began to simply give in to the culture in which they found themselves. It was so much easier and safer—think Daniel in the lion’s den if they didn’t do as they were told—easier and safer…to blend in rather than stand out or make a stand for their faith. Finally, after a few hundred years of this cultural assimilation, the Persian Empire came along and defeated the Babylonians and conquered not only the northern kingdom but the southern kingdom as well. This meant that the Jewish people were now under new rule. Fortunately, the Persian Empire took a completely different approach to “Empire Management” than the Babylonians had. They wanted their oppressed citizens to be happy and content, and this meant that they allowed any exiled Jewish people to return to their homeland. The Persians even helped to rebuild a second Temple in order to re-establish the nation’s cultural and religious identity.
It is in this “Restoration” time that I want us to focus this morning. You see, the newly installed Governor of the Nation of Israel was a man named Nehemiah. He, along with a Priest named Ezra, planned out how to rebuild Israel. Ezra and Nehemiah were committed not only to re-establishing the cultural identity of their people, but they wanted to bring God back to the center of Jewish life as well. The interesting thing is that the first project that this team tackles in the huge project to reconstruct Israel is not the city walls of Jerusalem, which would have provided much needed security and privacy from the aggressive surrounding cities as they rebuilt their lives, nor was it housing or farming, which would have given the people a comfortable place to live and food to eat. Rather, Ezra began the rebuilding by starting with the altar of God and the foundation of the Temple. Beginning with the Temple makes a huge statement about where Jewish identity comes from. As long as the people focused on trusting in God, the rest of the details seemed to simply fall into place!
These are the words from Nehemiah Chapter 8 (selected verses). The moment described in this passage came after the Temple and the City Walls were fully restored:
1-2 On the first day of the seventh month, all the people came together in the open area in front of the Water Gate. Then they asked Ezra, who was a teacher of the Law of Moses, to read to them from the Law that the Lord had given his people. Ezra the priest came with the Law and stood before the crowd of men, women, and the children who were old enough to understand. 3 From early morning till noon, he read the Law of Moses to them, and they listened carefully.
5 Ezra was up on the high platform, where he could be seen by everyone, and when he opened the book, they all stood up. 6 Ezra praised the great Lord God, and the people shouted, “Amen! Amen!” Then they bowed with their faces to the ground and worshiped the Lord.
We are told that the act of returning from exile, rebuilding the Temple, and re-establishing worship began a season of revival and renewed commitment to God for the people of Israel, the People of God.
Ok, so if you have made it this far (through my little history lesson), I know you are really committed to this devotion—let me just say thank you, and I will do my best try to make the rest of this worth your time. The truth is I feel like coming back together for Sunday evening worship helped me have a deeper understanding of how the exiled Jewish people might have felt as they returned to worship together. I know that I was only away from gathering for worship for about six months compared to the 70 years that the Nation of Israel had endured while being exiled, and I know that our church was not completely leveled to the ground by an invading army, as the Temple had been. And I know I wasn’t removed from my home and sent to a completely different land to start my life over in a hostile community. But I still see some faith-testing similarities between being conquered by another country and being overrun by a pandemic. For instance, both the Jews and our congregation were sent into exile by an invader that we had very little power to stop. We were both separated from many of the people and places and activities that enrich our worship and help us stay grounded in our faith. Finally, we were both surrounded at times by conflict and unrest, which made the situation even more stressful and intimidating. In other words, over the course of the last few months, our faith has been challenged and tested by a host of limitations, separations, and altercations. HOWEVER, the beautiful thing, for me, and the thing that has stuck with me is that, although it has been extremely difficult for all of us, I believe that much like our spiritual siblings, the Old Testament Jews, we can choose to emerge from our “COVID exile” with a new appreciation for our faith and our worshipping community and our relationship with God. If last Sunday’s worship was any indication, I am a witness of the Church’s resolve to emerge from this pandemic, renewed in our focus on what truly matters, and revived in our spirit to experience God in a richer way. Renewal and revival. I once heard a quote—and I cannot remember who said it or even where it came from—but the gist was this: A small, vulnerable, individual flame such as a candle can easily be extinguished simply by blowing on it; but blowing on a more established, secure fire, such as a small campfire, fuels it to grow in intensity, increasing its warmth and light. Absence can do the same thing for the passions of our hearts. Our less vital passions are easily lost (not unlike a candle’s flame) when they are not constantly presented to us, as we live in a constant state of their distraction. On the other hand, when we are deprived of passions that provide us with purpose, identity, and hope, we realize how essential they are to our lives. May the holy breezes that are generated as we gather together once again for worship revive your passion for faith and set our hearts ablaze with renewed joy and commitment. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, AMEN.
Join us for worship in person or online this Sunday, at 11 AM. And tune in before that for online Sunday School at 10 AM with the R.L. Pope Class. Have a great day, take care of one another, and stay healthy people!!!
YOU CAN WATCH AND READ ALL 10 @ 10 DEVOTIONS HERE.